Autism in the Kindergarten Classroom
Every single kindergarten student, whether they are a typical learner or a more unique and an atypical learner, each young student will process this new place and their new friends in their own way. Some reach and touch, some watch and listen and others test their physical and mental skill where ever they can. Others may point and hope to gain adult attention to have their needs met.
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have difficulty establishing the “just right” amount of enthusiasm for games, activities and social relationships. When a mismatch in the child’s energy level occurs, the child may be out of options. You’re made aware of the child’s lack of strategies once a genuine melt-down unfolds before your eyes. If you have a melt-down on your hands, try the following strategy:
- Meet your child where they are at:
For example, if the child is high in energy, start with high energy activities. High energy activities tend to involve the use of large muscles. In a safe manner, instruct the student through a simple “Simon Says” while the student mirrors your large movements. Try progressing the movements and incorporating integration of the left and right sides of the body.
If your child is low energy and reluctant to participate, then meet this young student where they are at by introducing small, quiet eye-hand tasks within a personal and emotionally safe space.
- Allow the child to move from one range of energy/alertness to another:
Students need to know that it is okay to feel different moods and emotions, but when it comes to academic success, students need to quickly move from one level of alertness to another. For the overly excited student, start with high energy and then more focused attention by gradually introducing structure and rules. Encourage more visual motor and eye-hand coordination activities.
- Ask for more information:
If you are interested in a deeper dive into the strategies young students with autism spectrum disorder can benefit from, consider an easy to read reference. I have written a book on unique learners called, Unique Learner Solutions. The book describes strategies teachers and students have taught me and some basic neuroanatomical explanations for why they work. You can purchase a copy of my book on this website or find a copy on Amazon!
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